VIRGINIA BEACH, VA- The Division II USCAA Volleyball National Championship game featured the second-seeded Johnson & Wales University-Charlotte Wildcats against the third-seeded Christendom College Crusaders. For each, it was a first-appearance in a USCAA Volleyball National Championship game.
The Wildcats, facing Christendom for a third time this season, completed an unprecedented run in the championships by winning in three sets (25-14, 25-23, 25-14). Johnson & Wales went 4-0 over the three-day event and won the National Championship without dropping a set during the tournament. The Wildcats will now go down in history as the first-ever Division II Volleyball champion.
Christendom and Johnson & Wales faced off in pool play on Thursday, with the Wildcats winning 3-0. From there, Christendom would rebound with a win against Penn State DuBois and an upset against previously unbeaten and #1 seed University of Cincinnati-Clermont in a thrilling five-set marathon. Meanwhile, the Wildcats handled #4 Penn State Fayette 3-0 in their semifinal contest to set the stage for Saturday’s match.
In the championship game, Johnson & Wales started off the first set on a 10-2 run. A couple kills from Celina Albisu helped close the gap to 10-5 before the Wildcats went on an 11-5 run to put the set out of reach.
The second set was more closely contested. Kills by Michaela Pennefather, Celina Albisu, and Mary Heisler paced the Crusaders offensively and allowed them to get out to a 9-5 lead. Christendom held that advantage to late in the set. Tournament MVP Toniya Scott had a series of kills with the Wildcats trailing, but more notable were a number of Christendom errors that gave Johnson & Wales momentum and eventually the set.
The errors continued to plague Christendom early in the third set, with six of the Wildcats first eight points coming from Crusader mistakes. However, a kill from McMahon and three-straight Johnson & Wales errors tied the score at 9. A 16-5 Wildcat run would ensue - featuring kills from Scott, Iyana Favor, Demya Scott, and Kendall Watson – that overwhelmed the Crusaders and completed the National Championship victory for Johnson & Wales.
The Wildcats were led in the contest by Scott, who finished a brilliant tournament with 11 kills, 7 digs, 4 blocks, and 15 points. Reid racked up 25 more assists. Demya Scott and Iyana Favor added 5 kills. Kendall Watson, who led the field in service aces, tallied 4 more for a Wildcat team that had 10 aces total.
Christendom notables included Albisu who tallied 11 kills and two aces. McMahon had 16 assists and two blocks. Pennefeather was second on the team in kills during the game with 7.
In the third-place game on Saturday morning, Penn State Fayette defeated University of Cincinnati-Clermont 3-0.
2018 USCAA Division II Volleyball National Championship All-Tournament Team
Kim Davis – University of Cincinnati-Clermont
Siteri Tale – Penn State Fayette
Gemma McMahon – Christendom College
Celina Albisu – Christendom College
Moana Reid – Johnson & Wales-Charlotte
Kendall Watson – Johnson & Wales-Charlotte
2018 Tournament MVP
Toniya Scott – Johnson & Wales University-Charlotte